By myself in Bali by Sandeep Silas, published in The Hindu

Sandeep Silas visits the Indonesian island and comes back with memories of tourist beaches, the music of the angklun and glimpses of India everywhere


How do you see a country of 17,000 islands? That when 6,000 of which are inhabited! So you go to the place you’ve heard most about and which promises a generous share of the sun and beach.

The word ‘Indonesia’ has an India connection — “Indos” means Indian and “nesos” means islands.

India here is every where and in everything — statues from the Ramayana at road intersections; people greeting you with “Namaste”, temples, folk performances of the Ramayana, wood craft, the confusion of shops coming right up the street, and the unevenness of order. The reason was not far to find.


Indian traders brought Indian culture and religion here in 1st Century A.D. In 7th Century A. D. the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya in South Sumatra was epitomised in the building of the Borobudur Buddhist sanctuary. In 13th Century A.D. East Java saw the emergence of the Hindu empire of Majapahit, which lasted two centuries, uniting Indonesia and parts of the Malay peninsula. The Indian Government is helping restore the Prambanan Temple near Yogyakarta. Islam came in the 16th Century, again with traders, and today is the dominant religion here. Interestingly, Marco Polo came to Java in 1292 A.D. but the Europeans did not come until the 16th Century, when the fragrance and flavour of spices could not hold them back anymore. The Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, British, Japanese… all have been players in the archipelago till Soekarno proclaimed independence in 1945 A.D.


The road took me to Nusa Dua. Once inside the Italy-like tip of the Indonesian shoe, I learnt it is an insulated area for tourists, with little or no interaction with Indonesian people save what is dished out by the hotels. Past the Namastes, floral greetings and bamboo music it was left entirely to me to discover the Balinese way of life.

28dmc_nusa_1094950gNusa Dua Beach in Bali. Photo: Sandeep Silas

A break took me to Kuta Beach, which, along with Jembaran, is a favourite with tourists. Crowded, confused and scarred by the memory of the 2005 bomb blasts, the place still buzzes like a bee.


A while later I saw the most stunning examples of woodcraft. Most of them celebrate Jatayu’s sacrifice as it tried to protect Sita from being captured by Ravan. Ram and Sita, too, were captured in wood.


I selected a depiction of an Indonesian couple in the rice fields as a souvenir, having enough of the Ramayana in my home country. The batik here is irresistible, so be prepared to be divested of a few thousands of rupiahs if you enter a showroom. One thing I must record is the simplicity of the ordinary Indonesian. They appear so human and appear so starry-eyed as they feel that your situation in life is better. The very mention of ‘India’ generated a friendliness.

I couldn’t hold my steps early next morning. I ventured out for the sea. But, wait, I was held in my tracks by the beautiful song of the Bali birds. Dawn was about to be. The sun was still in the sea. But, the birds knew it long before it is time to welcome a new day. There was an excitement and a welcome hidden in that chirping. I recorded a video clip.

The beach was calm. Sea-washed! I sighted fresh algae that the waves had brought to the shore.


Click, click, click went the shutter, capturing the golden road to the sun on the water surface. It lasted about ten minutes, this heavenly bliss before normalcy returned and it was like any other day. The virgin rays falling on the beach, the trees, the beachside temple and on my face were all in my camera.

Next day was a day full of diplomatic nuances, debates and a draft declaration. The evening promised Ubud — rice fields and ethnic dance. I travelled almost an hour from Nusa Dua and reached a restaurant complex called Laka Leke, situated amidst the rice fields. Everybody sits here in spacious pavilions and witnesses the Kecak and fire dance. The venue is illuminated by flickering oil lamps. When the queen enters on her palanquin, bare-chested men raise their hands and bow their heads in welcome. Kecak is actually the Balinese version of the episode of Sita’s captivity. The men play the monkeys, crying ‘cak-cak-cak’ and circling Sita as they dance, the fire adding an element of mystery to the scene. Hanuman, the monkey god, comes to rescue Sita, gives her the ring of her husband Ram and consoles her. Now, the only difference in the Balinese Ramayana and that which we know in India is that there the story ends with “lived happily ever after”, while in the Indian version she had to go through the ritual of Agni Pariksha (fire ordeal).

28dmc_bali_1094949gNurturing culture: Ramlila in Bali. Photo: Sandeep Silas

The Taman Ayun Jagatnatha, is dedicated to god Sang Hyang Vidi Wasa. The capital Denpasar has many community temples. There’s Pura temple in Mengwi sits on a tableland. All temples have a turtle and two dragons in stone signifying the foundation of the world.


The Balinese dress and dance during festivals — Galungan and Nyepi are the main ones. The harvest thanksgiving festival is Makepung and held from August 8 to 12 at Jembaran. The islands’ most famous sea temple is Tanah Lot, where rituals were conducted and offerings given to the guardian spirits of the sea.

The simplicity of Bali’s music appealed to me a lot. There is the angklun, an instrument made of slit bamboo, which is held in hand and shaken to release the musical notes.


I carried an angklun back home, and whenever I think of Bali I just go and give it a little shake.

Keywords: Indonesian islandBali 

(Published in The Hindu, May 27, 2012)

Note: 8 photographs added at the time of uploading.


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#HAMPI:  #City of #Dreams by #Sandeep #Silas

There are some people in the world who dream and forget; there are those who dream and dare.

Hampi, the last capital of the great Vijayanagar kingdom was one such dream.  In this dream of the King, there was nothing missing—palaces, temples, baths, water tanks, market, platform to watch festivities, watch towers, elephant stables, long covered corridors, aqueducts and fortifications.  And this was not bare.  Each pillar of a palace or a temple’s gopuram and vimana, doorway, passage, was affectionately adorned with statues of gods, goddesses, humans and animals. The roof was a story in itself—on it was painted a legend or a complete scene. A 15th century muslim envoy, Abdul Razaq, was forced by the beauty of Hampi to remark—“The city is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like it, and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the world”.  The historians, Nuniz and Paes, praised the city as being greater than Rome, its palaces plated with jewel encrusted gold, simply ‘the best provided city in the world.’


First, to the name Hampi. It is said that Goddess Hampi (Parvati) attained Lord Shiva on the banks of the River Tungabhadra that flows through Hampi.


On her name lives the city and now the World Heritage Site.  There is a Ramayana connection also with Hampi.  It was originally known as Kishkindha, the monkey kingdom of the great monkey faced King Sugriva, who assisted Lord Rama in the fight against demon King Ravana of Lanka.  Later, two brothers, Hakka and Bukka raised Hampi to a city in AD 1336.  In the centuries that followed Vijayangar Kingdom surpassed all others in wealth, fame and status between the 14th and 16th centuries.

When I first arrived in the vicinity of Hampi, I was struck by the sheer beauty of the landscape strewn with boulders.  Amazing shapes and designs peeped out of most naturally placed boulders.


How an earth could a heavy boulder be resting for ages on a smaller one? How could the wind and rain have shaped another like a pillar?  How could two huge rocks be so moved to rest in a standing position converged at the top?  There was despair and hope, both written across the landscape by the boulders.

The approach to the main living shrine, the Virupaksha Temple is across a hill.  Dropped in the midst of the market place, the erstwhile Hampi Bazaar, I was moved to view with awe the sheer magnificence of the temple gopuram.  In those days the gopurams used to tower above the earth.


Built in pyramidal style, profusely ornamented by statues of gods, goddesses and attendant females, this one makes you feel so alive.


Statues of voluptuous females with slender waists, adorned with ornaments, fill up corners of the rising structure. They reveal the concept of beauty and the popular style of jewellery worn in the period.  Should your look be a lingering one, there is a possibility that life may fill up the statue and she may come towards you!


A group of women, walking in a row of three, dressed up in the colours of the Indian flag, marched decisively towards the shrine for worship. On their heads was carried puja material and an offering of coconut. They had a band of dancers and drummers following as accompanists. The whole atmosphere was charged.


The presiding deity inside the shrine is Shiva, represented by the lingam.  Sprinkled flowers, coconut water, ritual of aarti performed by a flame of fire and the smell of incense completed the picture of worship in an Indian temple.  Heads bowed, prayers were offered and the devotees trooped out on the other side.


I stopped to look at the frescoes on the ceiling. The colours have faded but the scene of Shiva’s marriage with Parvati is still visible in its completeness. The celebration is painted in natural colours and comes out with a vibrance that is visible unmistakably in the poise and the eyes of the godly couple.


Out of the temple, I climbed up the bend and halted at the monolith Ganesha. He sits inside the room in his glory while in the pillared hall outside dance maidens on the many pillars, their movement frozen in stone. I move further to a large green arena at one end of which is another Ganesha, much smaller, but sitting in the same style, gazing at the pillared hall in front. A nondescript road takes me further to the Ugra Narsimha.


Again a monolith statue, it now stands alone, as the structure above it was perhaps victim of pillage and destruction at the hands of invaders.  The 6-7 meter tall Lakshmi Narasimha has an angered look on his face as he determinedly sits cross-legged.  Just next to it is a small round tank, roof open, in the midst of which is a huge rock lingam, the Badavilinga. The water was still and sunlight opened a window on the water surface, half bathing the lingam with light.


I resumed my exploration as I entered the Hazara Rama Temple. The gopuram here is much smaller in dimension and rather full of signs of decay. Two amazing statues of women in dance poise, I caught on the sides as I entered the gate.


Just outside on the other side of the road is a water tank with steps leading down to the water. A covered corridor resting on pillars runs around reminiscent of the style of the Great Roman Baths.


More surprise followed later as I stood face to face with the first stone chariot I had ever seen in the Vithala Temple precincts.


Drawn by miniature elephants it is elaborately carved and has stone wheels that actually move. A ladder is placed in front to enter the chariot.

The biggest wonder is caged in the 56 elaborately carved hollow pillars of this temple.  These emit different musical notes! Ever heard of musical notes emanating from stone pillars?


I tapped on one, then another, yet another dazed in ear and eye. How could music be caged in stone?  What combination of arithmetic and art was employed to make them sound different and yet combine like in an orchestra? It is sound engineering of the highest order! It is a musical offering of stone to the gods!  What better way to please the gods in heavens above!  India in any case worships 33 crore deities so the music from these stone pillars will have to emanate equal numbers of days even if it is for one god each day!

The master craftsmen of Hampi, the master musician, and of course the vision of the King as the one who conceptualized the entire setting deserve kudos. I must mention the name of the great King Krishnadevaraya to whom Hampi owes much of its magnificent buildings.


A signage calling aloud ‘Lotus Mahal’ moved our steps.  There was an outer wall blocking the view of the interior buildings. This indicated that it was the preserve of the Queen and other ladies.

Inside was a water tank to the right now overgrown with weed and wedded to neglect. To the left a platform is reminder of the royal ladies watching the Mahanavmi celebrations from its vantage position.  On both sides of the enclosure are watch-towers, placed diagonally, from where eunuchs guarded the ladies of the Mahal.


In the center of the garden is an exquisite palace, called Lotus Mahal, residence of the Chief Queen.


Two storeyed, carved archways running through, ornamented on the exterior like the dress of a bride, the Mahal has a certain delicacy about it that pleases. It is said that this building was inspired by the beauty of a woman!

A strong desire to see the magic of Hampi come alive, filled up my mind.  In my imagination water started filling up the tank, the rustle of silk in Lotus Mahal and oh, those dainty whispers, started wafting out.  Soon the caparisoned elephants started lining up outside and eunuchs busied themselves. Dusk was approaching and earthen lamps were lighted all around, their flame protected by the niches that housed them in the walls.


There is no light more romantic than that of diya!  When hundreds of them spring to life all about you there is no escaping their warmth. The Mahanavami Dibba became a focal point as royal ladies assembled there to watch fireworks in the city. The sky was soon ablaze with colours and so were the hearts of those who secretly desired someone.

The ruins of Hampi possess a power to captivate the mind’s eye and enthrall a visitor by the warmth of their images that are captive of the times that have gone by.


I walked out on the other side of the ladies enclosure and came to two huge buildings, one used then for the elephants as a stable, and one for their masters.


Further beyond are three small buildings, one of which my guide tells me was the massage and beauty treatment house for the royal ladies!

You hear more stories as you explore more. The King’s Balance is a place where the King was weighed in grain or gold that went for distribution to the poor. The Queen’s Bath is a lovely tank surrounded by arched corridors and lotus shaped fountains under which frolicked the royal ladies.

More excavations are revealing more facets of city life. The Muslim Sultans of the Deccan combined in war frenzy in 1565 AD and attacked this Hindu Kingdom. What followed was destruction, plunder and loot.  Somebody won, somebody lost and Hampi was finished forever.

The river Tungabhadra crosses the Hampi valley meandering over rocks and becoming the silver line of this cloud. The river banks at Anegundi village are haven for tourists who wish to stay more at Hampi seeping slowly the beauty of the plundered city. The fortress town of Anegundi is trying to bravely revive the traditional arts of Hampi and the effort is laudable.


Yet in its ruins, those survived, there is a truth written all over; the truth of human endeavor, the truth of human beauty and excellence.


What Time then buried, Time is now revealing in faint blips of ecstasy and wonder!

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Lakhtey Jigar by Sandeep Silas ‘deep’ in Ranai-e-Khayal




Turn around and call out to me sometime

Don’t you ignore me darling another time


Why do you watch the lustre of the setting Sun?

Come sometime to me, and face the rising one


Don’t take the paths those take you far from me

Run sometimes to me and embrace me of your own


Lakhtey Jigar by Sandeep Silas ‘deep’ in Ranai-e-Khayal, 2012

Translated Book in English available on Amazon Kindle:

BEAUTIFUL THOUGHTS by [Silas, Sandeep]

For original Hindi version Ranai-e-Khayal please contact me.




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The #Sickle and #Honeycomb by #Sandeep #Silas



The Sickle and Honeycomb by Sandeep Silas in Borough in the Mist (2007)

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#ISTANBUL…#Sweet and #spicy by #Sandeep #Silas, published in #The #Hindu

ISTANBUL Besides its famed mosques and tourist spots, this ancient city offers a heady mix of spices and herbs in its bazaars, experiences Sandeep Silas


TURKISH DELIGHT Yes, Istanbul is very crowded but this vibrant city is full of life and rich in history

Istanbul had long teased my imagination. I had heard of it as glorious Constantinople, in the days of the Byzantine Roman Empire, its subsequent fame under the Ottoman’s, as Istanbul. It is a city which has contributed to political power, civil law, codes, art and culture, architecture and religion for many centuries and has today become a bridge between tradition and modernity. It has entered into the realm of cities those that have shaped civilisation and impacted the world. The whole problem was where to begin. There was so much to absorb at the same time. I quickly learned that it was built on seven hills. But where are the hills? Human habitation has quietly placed all the seven hills firmly under its seat. Yes, Istanbul is crowded.


The most famous monument I visited had this unmistakable stamp of history and the ages of Constantinople. The Hagia-Sophia is pronounced Aya-Sophia. This Church-Mosque-Museum of faith has been built thrice. The name means ‘divine power’ and the saga of its history says — 1,000 years as church, 500 years as mosque and thereafter museum. As it stands today, it was built during the reign of Emperor Justinanus and opened in 537 A.D. The plan is traditional basilica with a central dome. Together with three naves and its 107 columns it forms a splendid edifice. You look around and up and you keep wondering how huge it is and how delicately it has been decorated. Gold, silver, glass, colourful stones have been used to create an unparalleled effect. The grand mosaic work of the 6th Century is visible on the walls. A celebrated spot for the crowning of emperors was the famous mosaic floor under the central dome.

010Haiga-Sophia side view

It was turned into a mosque by Sultan Mehmed II in 1453 A.D. after Istanbul’s conquest. The Mihrab, pulpit, muezzin gathering place, preaching table, were added inside Hagia-Sophia in 16th & 17th centuries. More precious gifts came in from Suleiman the Magnificent and the later sultans.

Spectacle of faith

Once Turkey became a republic, Hagia-Sophia became a museum. What is of immense value today to humanity is the presence of the Mihrab and the mosaic image of Mother Mary holding infant Jesus at the same place — one on the ground, the other on the roof. It conveys the oneness of humankind and so much of God. I enjoyed this spectacle of faith present here because of history unfolding the way it did, now become a grim reminder and unifying symbolism. I greatly treasure the time spent here watching the carved pillars, discovering the seal of Theodora and Justinian in the columns, the other mosaics, the weeping column (originally part of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus) and the streaming sunlight from the many windows of Hagia-Sophia.

048True respect for different religions inside Haiga-Sophia

Close by is the Sultanahmet Mosque, also known popularly as The Blue Mosque, as the semi-domes and the inner of the central dome are decorated with blue calligraphy. It was built between 1609 and 1616 A.D. and in a way was viewed as a structure equalling Hagia-Sophia. One admirer has described it as the “unreachable symbol of lightness and elegance, with its six thin minarets and dome layout.”
Blue Mosque

In front of this Blue Mosque is the Hippodrome, now known as Sultanahmet Square. It was built by Roman emperor Septimus Severus in 203 A.D. and served as a meeting place for politicians, for chariot races and such other activities. Two Egyptian obelisks stand in the square sculpted with animals and motifs.

stained-glass-inside-blue-mosque-by-sandeep-silasStained Glass inside Blue Mosque

The jewels and precious thrones inside Topkapi Palace remind you of the ultimate luxury in which sultans lived and ruled. First a Byzantine Acropolis in Seraglio overlooking the Marmara Sea, Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, it became the residence of the Ottoman sultans. It was built between 1460 and 1478 A.D. over 70,0000 square metres. The Bab-i-Humayun Gate separated it from the city and the Bab’us Selam connected it to the inner courtyard. All the administrative buildings are in this section. Most of the Turkish treasures are displayed in the museum here. Crowns, necklaces, the 86-carat Spoon Maker’s diamond, rubies and emerald studded turbans, weapons including Nadir Shah’s famed emerald dagger, thrones, porcelain, manuscripts and murals are not only captivating in sight but also in terms of being witnesses of history. Amongst the most holy and precious exhibits are the Staff of Prophet Moses, the hair from the beard of Prophet Mohammed, the cup and coat of The Prophet and his holy mantle. Little did I know that the most famous opera of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “The Abduction from the Seraglio”, completed in 1782, is inspired by a sad tale, with Topkapi (Seraglio), as the scene of an agonising separation! It tells of a Spanish nobleman, Belmonte, whose beloved has been kidnapped by pirates and sold to The Pasha who dwells in Seraglio. Dolmabahce Palace, on the bank of the Marmara Sea, became home for the sultans from 1856 A.D. onwards. It was ordered to be built between 1843 and 1856 A.D. Two interesting facts about Dolmabahce deserve mention. One, that its architectural design has eclectic elements from Baroque, Rocco and Neo-Classical styles blended with traditional Ottoman architecture. Second, that about 14 tonnes of gold in the form of gold leaf was used to gild the ceilings of the 45,000 sq. metre mono-block palace! The world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in this hall, a gift from Queen Victoria, has 750 lamps and weighs 4.5 tonnes! Now, people flock here to see Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s deathbed in Dolmabahce. The founder President of Turkey died in this room in November 1938 after an illness.

429Dolmabahce Palace Gate

At the Egyptian Market, the Nazar Boncuk was everywhere. It characterises Turkey, protecting the holder from affectation by the evil eye. Two tastes and colours were prominent here—a sweet called Turkish Delight and spices.

155Egyptian Market

I think these are the two distinctive tastes of Istanbul—sweet and spicy! Spicy, in the sense of taste that enhances the flavour; and sweet, which makes time measure up to a cup of delight! My last image while leaving Istanbul is of the Byzantine City Wall, which has been preserved wherever possible.

The wall has crumbled with ravages of time, empires have been broken, the republic is born, and Nazar Boncuk now keeps Istanbul safe.

571Sandeep Silas at Istanbul

(Published in The Hindu, February 13, 2012)

Note: Except opening picture, all other photographs added now


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Ittefaaq (Coincidence) by Sandeep Silas ‘deep’ in Ranai-e-Khayal






Coincidence by Sandeep Silas ‘deep’

Be grateful for your coming or treat it like a coincidence

Life is taking a sweet turn, this much I realize


Two days I don’t meet you and then it seems to me

That my life is ebbing out, with each breath I take


The heart’s yearning is now being revealed by the eyes

Your thoughts bring those of the angel Gabriel to me


Before your coming several questions surround me

Ti’s strange, only beautiful thoughts fill me, once you come


How do I tell you to stop for me during your own journey

Before you too, many others could not become my custodian


I roam restless with a measure in hand, from door to door

Never know when the beloved may appear as a doctor to soul


My days have started shrinking betwixt a few words

My musings narrate my story without you, to everyone


One ‘love’, brought ‘deep’, one ghazal, another time two

How will she ever understand, such intimate conversations


Ittefaaq by Sandeep Silas ‘deep’ in Ranai-e-Khayal, 2012

Translated Book in English available on Amazon Kindle:

BEAUTIFUL THOUGHTS by [Silas, Sandeep]


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Who Can Tell… by #Sandeep Silas



Who Can Tell…by Sandeep Silas in Rainbows Don’t Last Forever (2012)

Book available on Amazon:

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Ummeed by #Sandeep Silas ‘deep’ in #Ranai-e-Khayal




Intoxicated with the wealth of your beauty am I

Mirthful is the dawn, dew is spread all around


I remember you sweetheart every day and night

You are the utmost of grace, my playful light


That the lamp of hope, be not extinguished my lady

Therefore ‘deep’ dwells in poetry and is on the rise


Ummeed by Sandeep Silas ‘deep’ in Ranai-e-Khayal (2012)

Translated Book in English available on Amazon Kindle:

BEAUTIFUL THOUGHTS by [Silas, Sandeep]

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#Fall by #Sandeep Silas

Fall by Sandeep Silas



Fall by Sandeep Silas in Borough in the Mist (2007)


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An enchanting village by #Sandeep #Silas, published in #The #Hindu

#Yvoire One of the most beautiful villages in France, Yvoire is full of flowers and cheerful local population, writes Sandeep Silas


A VISUAL TREAT A charming village house, with lace curtains, flowers and enveloped in greenery form a real romantic setting

G ive me a choice to choose a place to live the rest of my life. An idyll by the lake, amidst flowers livening up my window; stone houses those seem to have travelled back in time; thin pedestrian lanes without any machine monster emitting black smoke; spires surprising you at the end of a street; a village market that comes up informally in the square; laced window panes; lazy boats in the lake; and great food. Yes, I am talking of Yvoire, a village in France, a member of the most beautiful villages of France.

Barely 45 minutes from Geneva, creeper roses welcomed me at the entrance. Flowers seem to be the passion of every inhabitant. Each window was like a beautiful vase distinctive in colour and presentation. Ranked in France as one of the “Four Flowers”, Yvoire is full of flowers – lilies, gourdon, iris, roses, daffodils, gerberas, poinsettia, wisteria vines and the rosemary bush.

Yvoire is located in the Rhone-Alps region of France under the department of Haute-Savoie. This small village, just 3.2 sq km. with a population of 810 only, has access to two faces of Lake Geneva, as it separates the “petit lac” from the “grand lac”. The village just celebrated its 700 years of existence in 2006. Set in the 14th Century, as usually done then with fortifications, a castle, ramparts, mansions, and stone houses, the village continues to look the same. The St. Pancras Church that dominates the village heights dates to the 11th Century but has been rebuilt and attended many times. Its slender green-onion like dome is representative of Savoyard and Piemontese religious architecture of later centuries.

Homes were not homes, they were more! Some had portions running as boutiques selling designer garments, locally made souvenirs, cheese and cakes, and a lot doubled up as restaurants. Survival had placed the village between the horns of “character” and “commerce”. It obviously gets a lot of tourists who come to dip their souls into the sponge of delight for a day.

From the square, under the church steeple, you can buy things you may not need, but would like to take back. Though each window here was very beautifully done, one particularly caught my attention from the square. A vivacious green Boston Ivy creeper half encircled it, with purple, pink, and red gerberas raising their sprightly heads from the pot placed on the window-sill. Each leaf of the creeper had three tongue-like lobes, one each to taste the sweet, sour and salty breeze, I thought. Behind the glass window-panes was a beautiful lace curtain. Only a face, like that of Helen of Troy was missing. A perfect window for a Romeo and Juliet conversation!

The turrets of Savoy Castle still hold intrigue within their bosoms. Tiny windows, more for watch and ward and breeze rather than views characterise the castle. Jardin des Cinq sans is now a leisure garden with the five-senses theme – fruit and vegetables for taste, flowers for sight, herbs for smell, and aviary for hearing.

A village surviving since 1306 AD in the same time warp is an amazing spectacle to visit and see. In its earlier years it was on the trade map through the Alps and along the Lake Geneva. In the 16 {+t} {+h} Century fishing became a primary occupation for the residents.

Now, in the 21s {+t} Century it is heritage that makes the place important. Actually, I felt that the place has been blessed because its importance over the centuries never diminished despite changing times and trade preferences.


Past paper boats hanging in the air I moved to the lakeside. Walking down a stone paved path beside yellow lilies was invigorating. Once beside the water I sat down to look at the mountains. Across the Lake Geneva (Lake Léman) are visible the Jura Mountains. A pair of ducks frolicking in the water accentuated my loneliness. Couples sat, walked and boated enjoying every moment of togetherness. I resumed my walk and halted at a letter-box made in cast iron, fixed on the outside wall of a home. It had a rider on his horse, embossed on the front face. Its letters – “ LETTRE”, and its stylisation immediately transported me back to the medieval ages when horses served as car, train and plane. Another wooden door to a godown carried a pasted poster appeal carrying instructions, with this slogan at the end of the page – “Vive La France! Vive L’ Empereur!” This was how official orders/notifications were communicated to the public in those days. Lunch was freshly caught fish from Lake Léman, what else!

The faces I recall from this trip were unusually charming – a woman with two spaniels under a signboard, the boy at the cake shop, the woman who entered the boutique hurriedly, the man making a straw hat, and the girl who served us food in the restaurant. The names, those people gave to describe their homes and themselves – Les Murailles, La Maison Fleurie, La Maison d’ Historie, La Gangière, La Bentellière and Coup d’ Coeur, continue to stay in my memory. Especially Coup d’ Coeur, as between the suspended flower baskets from the balcony, at the entrance, were hung many red coloured hearts made of round pieces of wood glued together. I left my heart amidst the wooden ones in France, beating for someone.

(Published in The Hindu, December 27, 2010)


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